Businesses everywhere are feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as the virus sweeps across the globe. In the midst of a pandemic, owning a business still comes with the responsibility of keeping up with legal priorities. Now more than ever, it’s important to pay special attention to your intellectual property. Keep reading for a few tips to help you stay on top of your legal responsibilities.
Protect your trademarks
It’s easy to let deadlines slip your mind when you’re juggling stressful life circumstances. Although many businesses have closed due to COVID-19, deadlines to file for your Combined Declarations of Continued Use and Incontestability between the 5th and 6th year or the Combined Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse/Application for Renewal between the 9th and 10th year have not changed. You need to make sure you file these declarations to maintain your trademark registrations.
If you are not actively monitoring your trademarks in commerce to spot unauthorized use, you risk diluting the value of your business. Your brand is what sets you apart from your competition. Maintaining and protecting your brand at a time like this can be challenging, but is necessary to secure your business’s success. You should be maintaining registrations, keeping your valuable trademarks in use and keeping an eye out for infringers.
Register your digital assets
Due to stay-at-home restrictions, much of our time is now spent online. That’s why registering your website content with the US Copyright Office should be at the top of your to-do list. Your website is a valuable asset and you should protect it like you would any other aspect of your business. By obtaining a copyright registration for your website content, you’re website is better protected from infringement or misuse of your content. If you do not have a copyright registration for your website content you cannot file a copyright infringement claim in federal court. So make sure you obtain a copyright registration for all original content on your website, continue to stay vigilant and regularly monitor for anybody plagiarizing your site.
Pay extra attention to IP rights when you sign a contract with a vendor or customer. Those contracts can have a big impact on your intellectual property rights in the long run. Businesses often hire contractors to do creative or inventive work, such as designing a logo or writing an article. While you might assume that the hiring business would automatically own this work, that’s not always the case. To avoid any conflicts, make sure the contracts state that you own all IP rights (copyright, trademark and patent) in work made for hire, even when you are no longer affiliated with a vendor.
Maintain your patents
In addition, deadlines for filing patent applications have not changed. In the U.S., you have one year to file for a patent once your idea has been made public. There are no extensions for deadlines, so keeping track of this responsibility is as important as ever. Long-term, you should prioritize meeting deadlines for maintenance payments on your patents and staying on top of patent applications that you want to issue.
If you need assistance with protecting your IP assets and rights, the Marks Gray IP legal team is here for you. If you would like more information on the IP legal team go to https://marksgraydev.wpengine.com/practices/intellectual-property/